Category Archives: Movies

Uncanny Valley

I’m not sure whether I’d say that wax figures are replicas or facsimiles or tributes, just that they look like someone you may know, or at the very least represent someone (alive or dead, real or fictional, to use those terms very loosely) known. Celine Dion or Flash Gordon.¹ Virginia Woolf, Stevie Nicks, David Hasselhoff or Alf.

Those types of people from which those type of figures are made.

Not living, but life-like…actually, larger-than-life. Posed, if not poised. Fake flesh, real clothes. Shoes to match. Jewellery, sometimes. And hair, human or otherwise.

Effigies, all. Graven images? Maybe.

***

Some faces you see more than others. Some figures just dominate.

Olivia Coleman plays the Queen Elizabeth II on the series “The Crown,” and Helen Mirren played her (Queen Elizabeth II, not Coleman) in the movie, “The Queen.”

I went to a wax museum, my first, which was buried in a mountainside in Vietnam. Ba Na Hills. Inside were life and near-life wax figures of (in no particular order): Kobe Bryant, John Rambo, a very scary Micheal Jackson, a weirdly proportioned Mr. Bean and, finally, a royal tableau featuring Prince William, Kate Middleton and, standing off-side for some reason, the Queen, Elizabeth II.

Only, that queen didn’t quite look like the Queen. Yet, she did. Because, well, it seemed very much like Helen Mirren’s head – not hers but the one she wore for the movie “The Queen” – had been placed on what looked like the body of the Queen, wearing a Queen-looking (matronly?) dress and the kind Queen-looking jewellery befitting a royal (big knots of it like babies’ fists).

THE QUEEN

Or am I wrong? Perhaps I’m only seeing something I only think I’m seeing, but that’s not actually there. Like how you confuse someone for their younger, yet very similar, more familiar (you’d swear by it) brother. Or friend. Or cousin. Or whatever.

Not a double or a doppelgänger but someone like that.

***

In recent years, it appears that they’ve changed the wax figure Queen. Her face, at least, looks more Queen-like and less Mirren-esque.

Strange things happen when you go traipsing through the hollowed-out landscapes of the Uncanny Valley.

But I know what I saw, even I didn’t see it.

 

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1. For the longest time, I confused “Flash Gordon” with its soft-porn, sexploitation counterpart, “Flesh Gordon.” I thought the latter was the former, which defined the character and films for me for years. Similarly, I had always assumed I had seen “Top Gun” when in fact what I had watched and assumed was “Top Gun” was the movie “Hot Shoots.” Finally, Bill Paxton and Dennis Quaid are not the same person, despite their apparent interchangeability, which honestly seems to me to be some kind of low-end superpower.

 

 

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Characters, Movies, People, Places, Travel

Brick Bye Brick

My aunt’s boyfriend was neither smart nor kind, but he was tall and with a good amount of hair, all things considered. That was more than enough. That was all that it took for him not only to become a part of our lives, but placed at its very centre by the adults in the family. To this day it disturbs me how small we were; how easily we shuffled or were pushed to the periphery.

Eventually, they married. Then divorced. I don’t know where he is now, but it doesn’t matter.

This story is about what happened before all that. This is about that one time with the brick.

***

He stacked the brick on a set of rough wood planks, and left the setup in the parking lot behind my parent’s store. For about a week, you could find him back there, s-l-o-w-l-y bringing his arm up past his shoulder then s-l-o-w-l-y easing it back down again to touch the brick with the base of his open palm, feet planted wide, knees bent, cheeks puffed out and sucked in by big, exaggerated breaths.

Just like that for days and days. Preparing. Getting ready. “Training.” All this (need I say it? He had absolutely no martial arts training whatsoever), because he was bored and because people had stopped paying attention to him and because Jackie Chan was huge that year.

Rumble in the Bronx? A classic even still.

But Jackie Chan wasn’t all that tall and his hair was only OK. And besides, boyfriend knew that he could do it – break that brick straight in half – because he not only did he believe in himself, he’d never stopped believing in himself, no matter what. He was, in other words, a winner. Number 1!

And wouldn’t you know? Could you guess?

YES. Of course the stupid motherfucker broke his hand, and badly. The brick remained totally unscathed because OF COURSE IT WAS. The second best part? Boyfriend kept his busted-up hand wrapped in dirty bandages for weeks until he finally went to a doctor, who admonished him for waiting so long to get his “work accident” attended to.

The day after he broke his hand, the brick was gone. Gone like it had never been; as if everything surrounding it had never happened. Even the wood planks had been disappeared. No one needed to tell us that under no circumstances were we ever, ever to talk about the brick again or about martial arts or about Jackie Chan (who, in any case, used a stuntman sometimes, the wimp, or didn’t we know that?). No need to embarrass ourselves, talking about something that didn’t happen, right? Also, these bandages are from WORK ACCIDENT.

Sure, asshole. But why couldn’t you just keep them clean?

***

Time makes fools of us all, no matter which direction it comes at you from. Telling you all this now, about the brick, after so many years, makes having lived through it doubly worth it, even if I’d give most anything not to speak of him, as if he’d never been. As if he’d never happened.

Like I said, fools of us all.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Childhood, Education, Family, Movies, THE PAST, Time

Deborah

I saw a zebra once while driving. That is to say, I’ve seen a zebra once, while being driven.

I was not driving. I was in the car while it was driven and I, therefore, being driven.

To the Tyrone Mill, just outside (or inside, depending on where you’re coming from) Bowmanville, Ontario. That’s where I saw the zebra.

Pronounced: zee-bruh or zeh-bruh (therefore rhymes with Deborah, like in the song by T.Rex [as featured in the movie, Baby Driver]).

You know the song?

 

Oh Debora, always look like a zebra

Your sunken face is like a galleon

Clawed with mysteries of the Spanish Main, oh Debora.

 

Oh, Debora!

The zebra was gazing in a paddock close to the mill. It was a quick glance, but undeniable. There it was, a real, live zebra somewhere in and/or around Bowmanville, Ontario.

I would swear to it, and I would pass every test, every lie detector, withstand any interrogator (military or otherwise) who pressed me on it. And I would be right. And I would be wrong.

Because I was right; I am wrong. Mostly so. Either way.

Zee-bruh. Zeh-bruh.

According to the clerk at the Mill – who is friends, it turns out, with the daughter of the people who own the properly with the field in which I saw the zebra – I did and did not see a zebra. The zebra. Because the zebra is a horse, the horse (the mostly white horse), cloaked in a zebra-striped horse blanket.

The zebra…it was a horse, of course (dressed as a zebra).

Now, surely. You can understand my mistake, which is not so much a mistake, I think, so much as a calculated misunderstanding (done by me on someone else’s behalf…who dresses up a horse as a zebra, and a mostly white horse at that, without expecting people to see a zebra where there is no zebra but a horse dressed like a zebra?).

A horse, of course, of course, and not a zebra but the guise of one.

Zeh-bruh. Zee-bruh.

Tomayto. Tomahto.

And Deborah.

Oh, Deborah!

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Communications, Interruptions, Movies, Places

[CC]

My sister thinks it’s strange that I watch TV with the volume turned low and with the closed captioning on. She thinks it’s funny (not “Ha, ha” funny more, “That’s…hiLARious). I’ve never really thought all that much about it, but it occurs to me that I’ve been watching TV like this for some time now. A few years at least.

Reasons why are plenty, come to think of it:

1) We have the technology, better than it’s ever been (for the moment).

2) I live in a small place and having the TV turned up loud dominates the whole house. Really, it just takes over everything.

3) I have trouble hearing/understanding fast dialogue (i.e. Gilmore Girls), unfamiliar accents (i.e. Harry Potter movies) or languages (i.e. German as well as High Valyrian).

4) Descriptions as well as dialogue: [ominous whooshing] [boisterous chatter] [SCREAMS] [muttering] [whistle shrieks] [romantic music] [LOUD PROTEST] [softly]

5) Comparing the dialogue with the captioning, following along and seeing where they diverge or witnessing how faithful they are to one another is strangely fascinating. Closed captioning can be wildly uneven (i.e. done by people, a service, bots, in-house or outsourced; done for real-time broadcasts, live shows or streaming services) – at times it can be quite daunting to follow, let alone rely upon for transcription, interpretation, translation.

6) There are also styles of closed captions, pop-on/block (words appear in rows/complete sentences with add-on rows as you go), and roll-up/scrolling (words appearing left to right, one line at a time) being the two main ones. Depending on the method and quality, words on screen can move along with the action or ahead of it or lag woefully behind (if they appear at all).

7) Weird questions of censorship: “swear words” (however so defined by those involved, yet their intent is obvious from the proverbial get-go) left out in some places and some shows, but not others. Whose responsible for that? Why do they care? Why would they? Fucking prudes. 

All those reasons, and also, because of them, this: a vast and growing dissatisfaction with the way some shows, movies and broadcasts are, for lack of a better word, paraphrased by the closed captioning, and often badly. So badly done, actually, that it’s just wrong. Hacked-up. I can tell the difference, but then I am an abled person whose hearing is not impaired.

All those absent words, all that incomplete action, all those pieces of the story missing, gone and/or rendered completely nonsensical. Where’s the context? What’s the rhyme or reason? Where’s the nuance?

Why set out to do something if only so that you can do it wrong? Don’t be cheap. Don’t make it cheap.

Word-for-word, it matters.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Entertainment, Family, Language, Movies, Pop Culture, Television, Words

The Blue Pill

Unless The Matrix starts with the scene with Neo evading Agent Smith, ducking behind cubicles and office furniture, desperately following Morpheus’ orders, the movie doesn’t feel real to me.

The first time I saw The Matrix I was in a car with a bunch of friends of a friend, at a rundown drive-in parking lot somewhere on the outskirts of Calgary, 1999. We got lost, arrived late. Caught the movie beginning at what reminds in my mind as that pivotal scene.

I have since seen The Matrix two more times (maybe three), and in its entirety.

Neo has an apartment? Look at those people standing there in the hallway! Trinity first speaks to him at some aboveground underground latex night club? Really.

Really?

Each time since 1999, Calgary, everything before Neo in the Office is a new movie, a different Matrix from The Matrix as I know it. I am aware that this Matrix is the real Matrix (The Matrix as it has always been, if there is in fact to be a Matrix film), but I can’t convince myself that that is so, memory and sensation in this case overriding fact.

Never mind the red pill.

***

2009. A transcontinental flight from Canada to Vietnam. Malaysian Airlines in flight movie.

The Watchmen.

It is the case that sometimes (and likely much more often than you think) countries will edit foreign films for domestic consumption. They revise the material, edit for content, blur things out, cut scenes containing, for instance, sex and/or violence (or interpreted as such…and let’s face it, hardly anyone makes cuts when it comes to violence).

Enter Dr. Manhattan.

Have you seen the film? Read the graphic novel? Then you’d know: the good doctor is naked, full frontal, a lot of the time.

Except where I was, fifty thousand feet in the air somewhere between Toronto and Ho Chi Minh City. From the hips down – way down – down past his cobalt thigh and down to his cerulean knees, there was a mass of pixels, pixels, pixels overlapping each other like crude geometric barnacles. They (the proverbial they) blurred it, and took extra just to be sure.

I found out about that extra later when I saw the North American (adult rated) release of the movie.

Imagine my disappointment; picture my surprise, however underwhelmed it was destined to be and inevitably so.

***

  1. My aunt’s house. A bootleg copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Hello again, Keanu.

Whomever got to this movie before me had a grand ‘ol time with the edits they employed. Bootlegging it, apparently, was not enough to satisfy.

All sex, all whiffs of it were cut from the movie’s 128 minute runtime, as was most of its violence (again not all, I saw much blood, a few stabs and, I believe, a beheading, if not the acts that lead up to them or even followed).

The final cut made no sense or rather, it made the kind of sense you’d sense in mediocre dreams and poorly-constructed nightmares. Dialogue cut mid-sentence, absurd time jumps from one scene to another, characters that simply appeared and/or vanished without explanation. Or reason.

The whole movie was 20 minutes long, if that. And it was the first time I’d ever seen or heard of a movie called Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

It took me years before I saw the full, unadulterated movie.

And yet. Both versions remain valid, the one being so far removed from the other that they are different things entirely, things quite impossible to compare, one way or the other. No need to vouch or even speak of quality or control here.

Too much has changed. Not enough remains the same.

Hello again, Keanu.

And again, but not really.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Characters, Childhood, Movies, Places, Politics, Pop Culture, THE PAST

Rent or Buy

There was a rule in our house about movies: you could only rent or buy movies you hadn’t seen. Renting or buying movie you’d already seen was a wanton waste of money, precious resource that it was, stupid.

So, what happened? Nothing but the inevitable: we watched the rented movies that we liked as much as possible before returning them (ostensibly forever; never to see them again), and we bought a lot of movies we only watched maybe once, maybe twice.

There is a sense here of wasting time as well as money. Yet, my parents remained firm. If you saw something once you never needed to see it again, did you? It’s been spent, over and done with. Rent or buy.

(There was no room here – no accounting for taste).

It was like they wanted to eat their cake and have it too, but also not have it to eat it.

Actually, it feels like it was a kind of test, which we failed, miserably.

Or maybe not.

Maybe we surpassed all expectation, if only because there was really no accounting for taste, no reason for or against it.

Waste not, want not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Entertainment, Family, Movies, THE PAST, Time

Reality Spin

There are shows I see within other shows or in movies which I sometimes can’t tell are real. I sometimes wish they were and at other times marvel that they, in fact, are. Real that is.

Case in point: “Conjugal Visit” is not a real show but clips of it as a real show can be seen on Insecure, a real show; Gigolos, a show seen within the movie, Tully, is a real show which I believed was not (could not, would never) be real.

Right?

Recently, during some idle streaming, I discovered Doomsday Preppers, Botched Bodies and My Cat From Hell. All real shows, though in very different ways. I won’t vouch for quality, and shouldn’t, since that right now is beside the point.

So. What makes Gigolos more likely than “Conjugal Visit”? What makes these Doomsday Preppers as likely as your Botched Bodies and My Cat From Hell? Premise does not seem to be either an issue or an impediment.

So what gives?

Prepares it’s not the premise, but the execution, and not so much that as the sheer audacity of all things considered. Life being stranger than, etc.

For real.

Anyway… Happy Easter, and may god bless us all!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Entertainment, Hobbies, Holiday, Movies, Names, Pop Culture, Television

Top Recs

The following: A list of things people have recommended to me, ordered according to our relationship to each other, arranged by order of importance and/or frequency of occurrence of said recommendation.

Friends:

  • Archer
  • Downton Abbey
  • Lost
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (book and movies)
  • Afternoon naps
  • Bouldering

Acquaintances:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Jimmy Fallon
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • Hitchhiking
  • The one on the left.
  • All lady fight club
  • To prove it by choosing which limb.
  • Mint tea
  • Chewing gum

Co-Workers:

  • Downton Abbey
  • March Madness
  • That cute place down the street.
  • To give up the coordinates for the rest of him we swear we only want closure.
  • Vaping

Upper Management:

  • To value “experience.”
  • To treat co-workers “like family.”
  • To give 110%
  • Offal on demand.
  • Game of Thrones
  • Dystopia
  • THE BOX

Family:

  • To call more.
  • A career change.
  • A nose job.
  • The key so we can finally know what he hid in that room we found behind the fake bookshelf in his workshop.
  • To please god stop reminding us.
  • Downton Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Family, Food, Friends, Hobbies, Jobs, Movies, People, Relationships, Sports, Television

General Improvements

  1. A system of pneumatic tubes.
  2. Better snacks (healthy or otherwise).
  3. Gobstoppers!
  4. More dogs.
  5. A little less blame and a lot more slack.
  6. Keep it to 90 minutes or less.
  7. Make it optional…informed, but optional.
  8. Fire him already.
  9. Polish it.
  10. Yes to no.
  11. Unlimited dipping sauce.
  12. No time limits despite expiration dates.
  13. Your face.
  14. Still more dogs.
  15. SMOOTH LINES.
  16. Better coffee.
  17. Let it play out first.
  18. Just ignore it sometimes.
  19. Portable numbing agents.
  20. A cat or two. Or three.
  21. To the left, to the left.
  22. Now goes to 11!
  23. Prioritize those odd numbers.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Dogs, Entertainment, Food, Movies, Thrift, Time

Re-Up!

Sometimes I wonder if I have the requisite nostalgia in order to enjoy the latest crop of reboots/revivals/reimaginings.

Films, TV shows, books, etc.

You know.

As a sought-after demographic, I theoretically should (all things considered). I should have the nostalgia, the memory, the desire to pursue or re-live or indulge, having spent my formative years in the era(s) that produced the works these new ones are based on – or off of, depending on your POV of such things.

Yours and mine.

Then again, is nostalgia requisite (or in this case, a pre-requisite?).

Most times it’s enough to simply get the references. Cred, then, not nostalgia.

#BirdBirdChallenge

There’s also something to be said about quality. Isn’t there?

No matter.

What’s old that’s new again?

What’s new?

What’s up?

 

 

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Filed under Books, Change, Movies, Television, THE FUTURE, THE PAST